Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 08:16 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - China

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - China, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3a7c.html [accessed 19 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

China (Tier 2 Watch List)

The People's Republic of China (P. R. C. ) is a source, transit, and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of trafficking in P. R. C. is internal, but there is also considerable international trafficking of P. R. C. citizens to Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America, which often occurs within a larger flow of human smuggling. Women are lured through false promises of legitimate employment only to be forced into commercial sexual exploitation largely in Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Japan. There also are cases involving P. R. C. men and women smuggled into destination countries throughout the world at an enormous personal financial cost and then forced into commercial sexual exploitation or exploitative labor in order to repay debts to traffickers. Women and children are trafficked into China from Mongolia, Burma, North Korea, Russia, and Vietnam for forced labor, marriage, and prostitution. Most North Koreans seeking to leave North Korea enter northeastern China voluntarily, but some of these individuals, after they enter P. R. C. in a vulnerable, undocumented status, are then sold into prostitution, marriage, or forced labor.

Domestic trafficking remains the most significant problem in China, with an estimated minimum of 10,000 to 20,000 victims trafficked internally each year. International organizations report that 90 percent are women and children, trafficked primarily from Anhui, Henan, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou Provinces to prosperous provinces along P. R. C. 's east coast for sexual exploitation. While it is difficult to determine if P. R. C. 's male-female birth ratio imbalance, with more males than females, is currently affecting trafficking of women for brides, some experts believe that it has already or may become a contributing factor.

The Government of P. R. C. does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. China is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to improve comprehensive victim protection services and address trafficking for involuntary servitude. China made improvements in some areas, such as by sustaining efforts to enforce its laws against trafficking and showing some improvements in victim care in key geographic locations by building shelters to provide trafficking victims with short-term care. It failed, however, to improve comprehensive victim assistance in a number of locations and continued to treat North Korean victims of trafficking as economic migrants, routinely deporting them back to horrendous conditions in North Korea. China improved its cross-border anti-trafficking cooperation with Vietnam and at times cooperated with the United States law enforcement agencies on select human smuggling cases. The two sides established a working group on human smuggling under the framework of the U. S. -China Joint Liaison Group on law enforcement cooperation. China's efforts to combat trafficking for forced labor remained inadequate. China should take significant measures to improve in these areas; revise its anti-trafficking provisions to align with its international obligations, including prohibiting the commercial sexual exploitation of children under age 18 and all forms of forced labor; and proceed with its plans to finalize and adopt the National Action Plan.

Prosecution

China sustained its record of criminal law enforcement against traffickers over the reporting period, though government data is difficult to verify and appears to conflate trafficking with human smuggling and illegal adoptions. P. R. C. law criminalizes forced prostitution, abduction, and the commercial sexual exploitation of girls under 14 through its criminal code. Prescribed penalties under these provisions, including life imprisonment and the death penalty, are sufficiently stringent to deter and commensurate with those prescribed for grave crimes. China does not prohibit commercial sexual exploitation involving coercion or fraud, nor does it prohibit all forms of trafficking, such as debt bondage. While Article 244 of its criminal code bans forced labor by employers, the prescribed penalties of up to three years' imprisonment and/or a fine under this law are not sufficiently stringent, though serious cases can draw harsher penalties. During the reporting period, China reported investigating 3,371 cases of trafficking of women and children. These figures, however, may include cases of child abduction for adoption, which is not considered a trafficking offense for Report evaluation purposes, or human smuggling. Throughout the country, provincial governments rescued 371 victims and arrested 415 suspected traffickers. Between June and September 2006, China improved cooperation with Vietnamese authorities, jointly disrupting 13 trafficking networks and rescuing 193 victims. The government reportedly launched similar operations with Thailand and Burma in late 2006. China did not provide data for its overall conviction record; at least six traffickers were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2006 in Anhui Province.

Involuntary servitude of Chinese nationals within China and abroad persisted, though the extent of the problem is undocumented. The government did not report any investigations, arrests, or prosecutions for this offense. According to reports in China's official media, in at least four cases, China imposed prison sentences and fines against employers who restricted the freedom of migrant workers. Over the reporting period, the Ministry of Labor increased its force of full- and part-time labor inspectors to strengthen efforts to address coercive work practices. Although the Chinese Government has cracked down on general corruption, it did not demonstrate concerted efforts to investigate and punish government officials specifically for complicity in trafficking.

Protection

China made modest progress during the reporting period to protect victims of trafficking, focusing particular attention to its vulnerable southern border provinces. The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) reported opening two Border Liaison Offices (BLO) along the border with Burma and Vietnam in the fall of 2006. The BLOs provide short-term shelter and can provide medical care. With assistance from the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), a government-funded and directed nationwide social organization, victims are then assisted with repatriation. MPS officers in these BLOs have reportedly received training to help them better identify trafficking victims. Additionally, the ACWF reports to have opened shelters in Guangxi, Jiangsu, Yunnan, and Sichuan Provinces. Provincial authorities in Guangxi also established a Border Trafficking Aid Center in February 2006 that provides shelter, medical care, and short-term rehabilitation for up to 30 victims. The Women's Federation and NGOs have set up national and regional hotlines that can help women obtain legal advice and assistance.

Protection services remain temporary and inadequate to address victims' needs; for example, in Yunnan Province, victims of commercial sexual exploitation are not offered psychological assistance and are generally sent home after a few days. The government relies on organizations such as Save the Children to safely repatriate victims. China has taken steps to improve intra-governmental coordination and cooperation with organizations outside of government in the most vulnerable provinces.

China has taken some steps to better identify and protect some foreign and domestic trafficking victims, particularly through enhanced cross-border cooperation. Nevertheless, some trafficking victims, including some mainland Chinese victims repatriated from Taiwan and trafficking victims from North Korea, have faced punishments; or, in the case of North Koreans whom China considers economic migrants, systematic deportation. The government does not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. Women found in prostitution are, in many instances, automatically treated as criminals without adequate efforts to identify whether any are victims of trafficking. The MPS states that Chinese trafficking victims returning from abroad were not punished or fined, but the ACWF reports that protection from punishment is only on an ad hoc basis with intervention from ACWF staff.

Prevention

China increased efforts to prevent trafficking in persons this year. The government cooperated with neighboring countries to dismantle several cross-border trafficking networks trafficking women and children. Yunnan Province authorities held a media outreach seminar to raise awareness among journalists of anti-trafficking strategies, victim protection, and relevant legislation. Other public awareness programs included: a campaign by the Sichuan authorities targeting major labor markets with informational posters, public service announcements on large television screens in the markets; and the distribution of pamphlets explaining legal protections, resource information, and hotline numbers for migrant workers who are at risk of being trafficked. Though it took some steps forward, China still has not adopted its draft national action plan to combat trafficking in persons. China has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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